I’m not particularly skilled at Bonsai, as you’ll note from my collection below, but I’m learning. It’s a fun combination of biology, aesthetics, and patience.
Here are some of the most useful resources I’ve found most useful in learning Bonsai:
https://www.youtube.com/c/bonsaify – San Francisco-based bonsai grower and educator. Eric has great styling taste and a ton of knowledge.
https://www.youtube.com/@BonsaiMirai – Mirai has some great in-depth videos on beginner topics as well as more advanced videos on: soil, fertilizer use, wiring, pruning, tree specifics. I haven’t checked out his paid membership for Mirai Live yet, but likely will at some point.
Bonsai Heresy book – this book covers a lot of intermediate topics and is easy/fun to read. I’d probably wait to get it until you’ve figured out some basics of keeping plants alive though, it’s can be a bit overwhelming to see how complex everything can get when just beginning.
After a couple years doing this, I think I’ve gotten better keeping trees alive. Next up, I’m going to try to apply what I’ve learned into making some more attractive trees…
Juniperus chinensis ‘Shimpaku’ #1
I bought this from a nursery and styled in December 2022. Here’s hoping it survives!
Grewia Occidentalis #1 and #2
September 2022 – Moved these outside. Pruned back the cascade-style plant to try to stimulate more backbudding.
2021 – I’ve repotted these into much larger pots to let them thicken more.
Acquired 2020 – Lavender Star Flower
I bought two of these in 2020 from https://www.bonsaify.com/ for $25 each. They’ve been a bit challenging as they need a lot of sunlight and water, in comparison to some of my other trees.
These are still young and probably need some years of just thickening the trunks before I try to do too much shaping and repot them into bonsai pots.
Acquired 2017 (RIP 2021)
This one was the first bonsai where I started to think about shaping and do some intentional pruning. It nearly died after I went on vacation and a friend forgot to water it. I’ve had some trouble getting the top to grow vigorously since then, but it’s a work in progress.
This picture is from a repotting in 2021. I should have done it earlier, as the solid it was in as not conducive to good root development. Fingers crossed the new bonsai soil it’s in works out. (edit: it did not survive, I think I should have cut back more of the top part of the tree when I pruned the roots, to relieve the need to feed as much foliage with the smaller roots).
Acquired 1999 – Hawaiian Umbrella Tree
2020: This is my oldest bonsai, but other than keeping it alive, I haven’t done much with it. It almost died in 2020 (likely due to not getting any fertilizer for years). Luckily this brush with near-death also triggered me deciding to actually learn more about how to grow and take care of bonsai trees.
I recently took a cutting from this one to propagate more of them, so we’ll see where that goes.
September 2022, pruned back to stimulate backbudding on both plants. Wired cascade-style plant to create more motion in the trunk.
Acquired 2020 from cutting
I cut some small bits off of one of these that grew in my neighborhood and have been growing two of them since. From what I gather they’re really easy bonsai as they can tolerate pruning, repotting, and not getting enough water very well.
Mine are currently in the grow phase. Maybe in another year or two I’ll put them in bonsai pots.
I’m planning on keeping this tree in this small pot and growing it as a Mame style (less than 6″). It’s currently double-potted to allow for more temporary root growth (into the second pot) and hopefully thicken the trunk, while not allowing the roots to grow in such a way that the smaller pot become infeasible.